The bridal shower invitation was tasteful and charming, an opportunity for "Monograms and Mimosas" to honor my best friend's daughter.
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I paused, whimsically patterned paper in hand and remembered this young woman as a little girl: the birthday parties at pizza parlors and skating rinks; the afternoons spent sipping iced tea with her mother, while she and her brother played with my two girls, the four of them raised more like extended family than simple friends.
It seemed implausible that she was old enough to marry. It seemed implausible that I had once been a bride more than three decades earlier.
At that time, our bridal showers were more functional than fun. Lots of wooden salad bowls and covered Pryex dishes for casseroles in shades of orange and brown, the requisite "earth tones" of the time. I still have the nesting set of mixing bowls from my mother's best friend. I'm not sure I could make a cake or a pan of cornbread without them.
"Back in the day," as they say, invitations were not typically designed and printed for individual brides and themes. Instead, handwritten, fold-over cards with a ubiquitous pastel "shower" umbrella summoned ladies to a repast of chicken salad and punch, with a side of butter mints.
A wild and crazy hostess might break out her "chip-n-dip" set and mix up the favored Lipton onion soup and sour cream dip to pair with ruffled chips. This would be a risky departure from the norm, since the glass "chip-n-dip" typically appeared at Friday night card parties or Sunday afternoon football gatherings. Mimosas indeed!
Like any responsible Southern "auntie," I checked out the bride's registry. Pottery Barn is the modern bride's preference. When her mother and I set up our homes, we registered at Belk's. It is important to keep up with these things. One doesn't want to appear ignorant in matters of style and shopping.
The color of the moment? A vibrant marine blue. It would look stunning as a bold monogram on a plush white bath towel. I had a plan and set out on a towel hunt. Mission accomplished, I met with a lovely young woman, one of my former students who had launched a successful crafting and sewing business. Her monograms are magnificent and I placed my order. A few hours later, I called her back.
"I think I want another set of monogrammed towels," I told my artsy friend.
"Is there another shower?" she asked.
"Not exactly," I laughed. "I think I missed out on the fun. I want monogrammed towels for me."
Thirty-four years ago, our wedding and shower gifts were lovely and much appreciated, but they were simple and straightforward. Dish towels and fluffy bath mats for a young teacher and engineer to set up house. Fancy monograms were not in the gift boxes. Well, except for a set of initialed shot glasses, which didn't get much use since we didn't drink hard liquor. They did come in handy for holding toothpicks on a holiday buffet.
Now, after many years of marriage and all the hard work that accompanies building a home and a life together, I felt the urge to hang plush, lavishly embroidered towels in the guest bath, with a brash, looping "B" for Bone between the "G" and "L" for Gary and Linda. I wanted guests to see something romantic and tender while they washed their hands. I wanted to celebrate our long and lively union with monogrammed passion.
When my bridal finery arrived, I hung the towels in the guest bath, plump and fresh, with our initials entwined for eternity, or at least until I accidentally spilled bleach on them and they acquired the standard white blotches that most of my linens display.
"What do you think?" I asked my long-suffering groom.
"Are people allowed to touch them?" He looked dubious.
"They are romantic and special," I told him.
"Whatever makes you happy." He looked bemused.
"How about a mimosa?" I inquired. Might as well get into the celebratory spirit. It was going to be a lovely bridal shower.
Dr. Linda Karges-Bone is professor of education at Charleston Southern University and director of Education InSite. Her radio program "Prayerful Parenting" is heard on WKCL radio, 91.5 FM. She and her husband, Gary, live in Summerville.